Monday, May 21, 2012

Weak Safety Shuffle Technique in Solo Coverage

Uh oh...

Most who know me know I like the shuffle footwork for defensive backs (DB's).  I started using the shuffle about 2006 as a way to help my slow corners have an advantage against our competition, who was much, much faster than us.  Since then, the shuffle is all I've really used when coaching corners.  The technique really has allowed a lesser player to play the cornerback position and still be able to be effective against much better talent at wide receiver (WR).

Introduce Solo coverage, or as I was taught "Poach" coverage.  I learned this back in my early days of Quarters coverage.  I used it as my trips open check as an automatic.  The problem I always had with Solo was the weak safety (WS) and his ability to both get over the number three receiver vertical, and being able to come up and play the force player to the away side.  Sure, most times this player is into the boundary and our dear friend, the 12th player (the sideline) can help us out.  However, if you've had some of the athletes I've had to coach, over the past few years, you quickly realize you need some way of helping this kid out.  I had used both a flat-footed buzz technique (which is my standard footwork for a Quarters or Two Read safety), and backpedaling as the footwork technique.  I take to heart a lot of what the players tell me, as they are the one's who are having to execute the technique and perform.  Most of the players did not like the sit and buzz because they always felt late getting to the vertical of number three.  Secondly, they did not like to backpedal because they felt by the time they judged it was a run play, they were late forcing the football.  So what to do?

WS has an issue with leverage on both the vertical by #3 and being able to force.

A few years back, I started toying with shuffling the WS out at an angle, having him open to the number three receiver.  The kids caught on pretty quick and liked it much better than backpedaling or standing flat-footed.  The benefit is two-fold in this case.  The WS gets to open up to his pass key (number three), yet still can see the quarterback and EMOL to get his run reads.   If the number three receiver is vertical, the WS can get into better position using the shuffle because he opens in the direction of the number three receiver putting him closer to his assignment than if he would have simply backpedaled.  If the WS reads run, he can easily use the T-step, redirect and get back downhill to help force the run. 

By opening to #3 WS can easily read #3's intentions

By opening to #3 WS can still see his normal lane of ball read and redirect if necessary

You do need to tweak the alignment of the WS if you use the shuffle.  Originally I had the WS align in the away side A gap.  I felt this alignment allowed him to get to both assignments well, however the WS still was late forcing the run most of the time.  Anytime I tried moving him wider, then the number three receiver became a problem.  Once I tried shuffling, I was able to move my lesser athletic WS's to the B gap, and the more athletic one's to stacked over the away side OT. 

WS is too wide in normal alignment to account for #3 vertical

Something else, not related to WS technique, that can help with Solo coverage is having the read side LB work fast to wall number three and force this receiver to run a "bubble" when going vertical.  This gives the WS time to get a clear read and get to his assignment.  The LB has to work quickly to get to this route and at the very least help be in the throwing lane, especially vs. quick throws. 

Lastly, if you really like Solo coverage, mix in "Roll Solo" as well.  Roll is not a good coverage vs. four vertical routes, however, it is good against teams that run flood concepts with the number three receiver going vertical (instead of the standard of having number one take the top off the coverage).  Roll takes some pressure off of your WS because there is added help by the FS in this case.  Maybe that's for another article though...

Just something I tried and wanted to share with folks who may be experiencing the same issues I had when installing Solo coverage.  Solo is a very good coverage, but it does have it's weaknesses.  By utilizing a technique, I already was coaching my corners on, I was able to help out our WS's in Solo coverage.

Most of you are wrapping up spring practice, you've had your spring games and are looking ahead to the off-season.  However, some of you may still need some improvement.  Here's some great sites in my blog roll you need to check out!

Football is Life Blog Roll

Smart Football
Smart Football is a site I check daily.  The latest post on the Colts offense shows exactly why football coaches should use this site.  The attention to detail here is second to none. 

Gridnotes is one of those gifts that keeps on giving.  It seems as if this site is updated daily.  Articles ranging from X's and O's to philosophy and tidbits that will make you a better coach grace the pages of this blog.  You can also find links to some of my long lost posts on there as well!  Great site chocked full of TONS of information on the great game of football.

Coach Hoover's Site
Coach Hoover, the master of creating and editing video has a great site with more links than I can possibly count.  Plenty of articles on drills as well as devotion and coaching philosophy can be found on Coach Hoover's site.  Plus...he's a Gator fan, what more could you want?!

Cripes, Get Back to Fundamentals
If you haven't found Brophy's site yet, you are missing out.  Cripes, Get Back to Fundamentals is the Mecca of a myriad of football information.  So stop lying around on a bean bag, naked, eating Cheetos, and get on the Internet to this site!  I guarantee you can burn up a couple of Saturdays doing nothing but reading old posts on here.  Good job Brophy!

If you are looking for good football knowledge, check out those sites, you won't go wrong there.  Well, I'm off for a bit, heading to enjoy my memorial day weekend.  Have fun, be safe and enjoy a cool one...

I hear Buffet playing...don't you?!